Pilot Theodore Wright made a quick radio call to ATC before cutting the electrical master switch, hopeful that would cut the trouble off at the source. But it was not, apparently, an electrical fire. While opening the door cleared some of the smoke from the cabin, flames were visible outside, apparently coming from the baggage compartment door, and Wright cut the throttles and dived for the Gulf of Mexico.
Wright, and passenger Raymond Fosdick managed to don personal flotation devices as the aircraft sank beneath their feet, and were rescued just before sunset Sept. 20 by the U.S. Coast Guard, which dispatched a helicopter after receiving an alert through a hand-held SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger. Wright bought the SPOT in 2008 to report his position to family and friends during a circumnavigation in a sailboat. It has been part of his kit ever since. "I don't go anywhere without it," Wright said, adding that his 406 MHz emergency locator transmitter failed to register the position of the aircraft, which sank about 60 seconds after landing on the water.